African National Congress

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Nelson Mandela (b. 1918) South African statesman, President 1994–9

Albert John Luthuli (c. 1898—1967) human rights campaigner and president-general of the African National Congress

South Africa

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(ANC) A South African political party. It was established in Bloemfontein in 1912 as the South African Native National Congress by a Zulu Methodist minister, J. W. Dube. In 1914 he led a deputation to Britain protesting against the Native Land Act (1913), which restricted the purchase of land by Black Africans. In 1926 the ANC established a united front with representatives of the Indian community, which aimed to create a racially integrated, democratic southern Africa. It sought to achieve racial equality by non‐violent means, as practised by Mahatma Gandhi in India, and from 1952 until 1967 was led by the Natal chieftain Albert Luthuli. Together with the more militant break‐away movement, the Pan‐Africanist Congress (PAC), it was declared illegal by the South African government in 1960. Confronted by Afrikaner intransigence on racial issues, the ANC saw itself forced into a campaign of violence. Maintaining that apartheid should be abolished, and every South African have the vote, it formed a liberation army, ‘Umkhonto Wesizwe’ (Spear of the Nation). In 1962 its vice‐president, Nelson Mandela, and some of his colleagues were convicted of sabotage and jailed for life. The exiled wing of the ANC maintained a campaign of violence during the 1980s, but following the election of President de Klerk (1989) the party was legalized and Mandela was released from prison in 1990. The ANC subsequently entered into talks with the government and participated in the drafting of a new constitution, which gave the vote to all South African adults. The first multiracial elections, held in 1994, were won by the ANC and Mandela became President. The ANC was re‐elected in 1999 and 2004.

Subjects: Social Sciences — History.

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